Saturday, February 11, 2006

Finishing.... the darn.... proposal

Well, I planned on updating my blog once I had officially completed the activity that inspired my previous entry´s title, but I just couldn´t wait that long. We got another extension by the bank and now the sucker is due Feb. 15 (rough draft) but it will be more or less complete at that point and we´re just looking for minor corrections. I think after that we only have a couple more days to turn in the final anyhow so we are going to travel to Tegucigalpa on Monday to present it and get feedback. Incidentally, ¨we¨ is myself, Juana María Ponce (Juanita) and Isaí, Betanco. They are they president and vice-president of the coffee cooperative COCAGUAL, respectively.

Over the last week approximately I´ve pretty much been parked in front of COCAGUAL´s shiny new computer crunching data from the community surveys that we did and the costs of various things, analizing everything that we are asking $105,000 for with respect to timeframe because the BCIE will not pay out all the money for the project at once, so we divided it into 4 sections. I really really hope that quantity is ok with them, because it took me over 2 days to analyze all of it. It´s been like pulling teeth getting help from Isaí on this too, which is starting to piss me off because this isn´t my project, it is theirs. Supposedly I am just helping out. Now there is no way they could do this correctly without me, and that´s not being arrogant just stating a fact.... it is probably one of the most complicated works I have had to do. And I know that they are up to their necks in other problems related to the sale of their final Lot of coffee. Apparently Biolatina, the organization that certifies organic production ´round here, screwed up and sent their certification to the Honduran government as being part of a different cooperative so they have had one big headache trying to fix that problem. Still, we need to work on better communication because most of the time I have no idea what they are up to and when I can get some help with the stuff I don´t understand relating to design and logistics of the project and whatnot. I´ve been working 8 to 7 some days and I get frustrated when I reach an impasse and I´m just sitting there stewing wondering what the heck Isaí is doing.

Other than that, I have been up to little else... the other activities being things like hiking around in communities collecting surveys, promoting the project, and things of that nature. Due to Isaí and Juanita´s other obligations, I have been doing most of the work actually writing the proposal myself, and when it is finished it will be about 80% my work. This is kind of cool to think about if it gets approved, because it´s been a big challenge for me (writing in Spanish and everything, although at least 50% of the work is managing numbers) and it´s a fair chunk of change not to mention a big and rather ambitious project (too ambitious if you ask me, but everyone else involved seems to want that, so who am I to argue? I´m just here to help out :P ). Besides some small tweaking, to finish it up I need to make some watershed maps, which I´m getting started on today... going to photocopy some new topo maps that Juanita bought in Choluteca which I am psyched to have.

I have been kind of lonely lately, they say the 6-month mark is typically the most difficult time of service for volunteers and I can understand why now. I´m not really sure of the reason, but it´s just a moment when homesickness pegs you the worst, maybe a transitional stage between feeling as though everything is temporary, an adventure of sorts (which is a very comfortable feeling for me) and adjusting to the new place as an actual home. This I´m probably more adept at than most people also, but it is still difficult. I have been getting around some despite all the work, which helps..... last week I spent a night in Choluteca (I think it was Monday, I guess almost 2 weeks ago now) and went to a ¨circo¨ with some other volunteers. This means Circus, but it wasn´t really much like that..... just some mediocre acrobatics and lot of half-naked dancing women plus three transsexual guys they called ¨sirenas¨ which is considered great entertainment. It´s sort of hard to wrap my mind around how this fits in with their conservative machisto culture, but supposedly the deal is it is only gay if you are the guy on the receiving end of the situation. Being on the other side of the table is like, the most manly thing ever. ooooooooookay.....

I also went to the anual Feria in El Corpus, which, for such a sleepy, deserted town in which nothing ever happens, was pretty awesome. There were tons of fireworks, lots of great things to eat, and big dances three nights running. I was only there for one day but I think I caught some of the best firworks. During the moment in which there were the most people packed into the central square, some guy with a fantastical device over his head barreled into the crowd and everyone ran screaming. What he was wearing was like a big wooden box sprouting wires from all angles that ran to thick, short cardboard tubes attached to the sides of the box. The function became apparent immediately when the tubes started spitting fireworks in all directions as he ran through the crowd, leaning over and charging like a bull, box-first, scattering onlookers left and right. As Dad would say, this was the antithesis of state-sanctioned fireworks... Unsafe and Insane. But so much fun.

From there, not much else to report... I haven´t played soccer in forever which sucks, but I think I´m going to get a game in tomorrow. The weather is getting pretty hot now in the day, but at night it´s still really cool and my morning bucket showers are the coldest they have ever been, as the water coming out of the spring now is only the clear, cold, year-round rivulet that comes from deep inside it the mountain. The weather on the whole is still very excellent in Agua Fría but the trips to Choluteca are a bummer.... well, more so than before. It´s easily 36 celsius every day here now, which is well into the 90s... almost 100 I think.

Last order of business is mail report.... I have now received the following items since my last post:

1 book from mom - La Sombra del Viento (which I have been reading..... VERY slowly)
1 postcard from Dad w/mt Rainier on it
CD player from mom
CDs from Sam

Thank you guys very much for this stuff; having my own music is really a welcome retreat to nostalgia for home when I need it and I´ve been reading that book... really really slowly due to having to look up every fourth word, but I like it so far.

signing out,



At 4:26 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey, Gabe,
Not sure if you check this or the e-mail more often. I know it's a rude awakening trying to read Spanish literature. I have to to do the same thing, but it's kind of fun figuring out the intricacies of literature, and, for me, a lesson in how different and difficult it is for my students to understand American literature. We don't speak anything like we write, and educators are having a tough time even with English speakers these days cuz nobody besides the few nerds we hang out with reads anymore. Shall I send the English version too?
I'm glad you got the CD player. Sorry about the mixup.
I know you've been extremely busy writing the proposal (welcome to the world of grant writing)and appreciate any news you've had the time to send our way. We know what you mean about the fireworks. Always was grateful to come away with no injuries from a festival in Central America.
Am applying for the Heifer study tour. Will let you know more later. I hope your Valentine bees go to someone in Honduras.
We are starting to feel your absence more at this 6 month mark too, but feel so sure that this is an irreplacable gift for you and the Hondurans that it helps to lessen the pain. Spoke with Linda this AM and she was lunching with Galen and he sends his best. By next month, Maya, Marisa, and Sarah will all be entertaining at a new venue downtown Seattle near the market,in a restaurant owned by a friend of Brian McCathren's, offering dinner with dancing and singing servers. Did you know this? How 'bout that Sam going to Australia or New Zealand this summer to finish up senior year?

Carinosamente, (Imagine enyes, OK?)
Yer mom


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